MDA has awarded a research grant totaling $404,274 over three years to Stephen Cannon, professor of neurology and associate dean for undergraduate medical education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The funds will help support Cannon’s research into attacks of paralysis in people with periodic paralysis (PP).
Periodic paralysis is a muscle disorder in which affected individuals have transient attacks of muscle weakness lasting hours to days.
With prior support from MDA, Cannon and colleagues generated a mouse model for hypokalemic periodic paralysis, in which attacks are triggered by low blood potassium levels. Using the new mouse model, the team intends to establish how shifts in potassium level, exercise and stress trigger attacks of weakness.
Preliminary work already has identified several strategies to reduce the risk of an attack or to reduce the severity of weakness, through the use of available drugs or by modifying the level of muscular activity.
“Support from the MDA has been a vital component of our research program on myotonia and periodic paralysis for two decades,” Cannon said. “MDA’s commitment to funding investigation into the fundamental biology of these diseases has yielded many important advances.
“Through the generosity of donors and the wisdom of the MDA Board of Directors, important work on muscle disease has been able to not only continue, but also to flourish.”
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.